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History & Culture

Fun facts about Geneva

Learn the most interesting fun facts and stories about Geneva!

1. The Jet d’Eau water fountain was not supposed to be a fountain

Back to 1886 when Geneva city opened a hydraulic pumping station on the Rhône River in order to power factory machines. At the end of each day, when the machines were shut down, a valve was used to release the water pressure in the air. 

People enjoyed it so much that it soon became a remarkable symbol of the city. It was then amplified and relocated to the centre of the Lake to become the Jet d’Eau of today.

2. There is a sunrise festival in August (people wake up early in Geneva)

Every year in August, you can experience the most beautiful mornings you’ve ever had at Les Aubes Festival at Bains des Pâquis with a 360° view of the lake in a cosy atmosphere. 

Jazz, piano/voice, fado, flamenco, be there at 6 am to enjoy an amazing music session illuminated by the spectacular colours of sunrise, followed by a delicious homemade breakfast. And you can have a refreshing swim before breakfast!

3. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva

One of the greatest philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment was native to Geneva. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born on 28 Jun 1712 at 40 Grand-Rue in the Old Town. 

This building still exists and has become a place of sharing and exchanging ideas and opinions at debates and literary meetings open to the public.

4. Geneva has the longest wooden bench in the world

Perched on the hill in the south of the Old Town, a small sunny square called La Promenade de la Treille is home to the longest wooden bench in the world. It was built in 1767 with 180 wooden board and offers a spectacular view of the Salève Mountain. A nice place to have a rest after a stroll in the Old Town!

5. There is a free open-air cinema on the shores of the lake in summer

In the summer, Geneva offers you a beautiful moment of cinema! Bring a picnic with you, sit down comfortably on a blanket or sunbed and relax, the movie is about to start … if you just turn your head a little, you will see the glittering lake and if you look up, you will behold a canopy of stars.

6. Spring is announced by a chestnut tree

How do you know spring has arrived? Flowers, spring showers, sundresses or swimming in the lake? In Geneva’s old town, a very famous tree is the official harbinger of spring. On the Promenade de la Treille in the Old Town of Geneva, the first bud of this chestnut tree marks the official arrival of spring. When trees talk, we listen!

7. You can travel around the city for free

Here is a great tip! Before arrival, you will receive your digital Geneva Transport Card and this card will allow you to use public transports for free during your whole stay. 

The easiest way to start your holiday in Geneva! The card is even valid for the Mouettes, those yellow and red bus boats!

8. The World Wide Web was created in Geneva

You’re reading this article on our website, right? So, let’s go back to March 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, submitted a proposal to his boss. 

His idea was to develop a radical new way of linking and sharing information over the Internet, and you know what? It led to what we know today as the World Wide Web and was the starting point of website development!

9. The first Swiss wristwatch was made in Geneva in 1868

Did you know that women wore watches on their wrists long before men? In 1868, Patek Philippe created the first Swiss wristwatch, which was a fine ladies' timepiece, commissioned by the Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. She was ahead of time, wasn’t she?

10. Two rivers meet in Geneva

Flowing forth from the Rhône Glacier in the Swiss Alps, the Rhône River always does a stopover in Geneva. And there it meets the River Arve. 

They are different in origin, colour, speed and behaviour, yet they meet in Geneva to become one before running through southeastern France. What a beautiful and unique natural phenomenon!

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